It seems pretty obvious that having strong ankles would be beneficial to runners, but never in my life as a runner (or before) have I heard one runner say to another runner:
“What’d you do at the gym today?”
You laugh but it’s true. And yet we rely heavily on our ankles to make sure we stay upright and moving forward. Our ankles have to be both flexible and strong. We need them to be able to bend and move with the variations of trails and other surfaces, and to hold strong stabilizing our feet and lower leg on these precarious surfaces too. Ankles, like many of the other muscle groups we’ve covered, play a role in our efficiency as runners because of how they can impact our form. Their position on the body makes them important because they are going to throw things off from your feet all the way up.
An ankle injury will take you out of running completely and it can take a long time of physical therapy to come back from. While in physical therapy you’ll work on strength, mobility, and proprioception, so why not work on those things before and protect our ankles from the beginning. Complete three sets with 10-15 repetitions of each of these, unless it gives a time and then do three sets of that time. If you aren’t able to do the full set that’s fine just back off to where you are and move forward again.
- Drunk Flamingo 30-60 seconds.
- Four Directional hop.
- Ankle Rotations with toes tucked in and weight bearing.
How to do:
- Drunk Flamingo: stand on one leg with your eyes open. Once you can do it with your eyes open, stand on an unstable surface like a pillow or mini-trampoline, a bosu trainer. When you’re good at that, close your eyes.
- Four directional hop: stand on one leg and hop forward then back to center, hop back then back to center, hop left then back to center, hop right and then back to center.
- Ankle rotation: hold your foot up off the ground and rotate your ankle one way and then the other. Pull your toes toward you and then place your heal on the ground and spread your toes while you rotate.
- ABC’s Stand on one leg, hold the other one in the air about 6-10 inches off the ground and write the ABC’s with your toes.
We don’t think too much about our ankles, but strong ankles is going to help prevent injuries all the way up to your head.